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Mahachi has endured a tumultuous decade-old tenure at the helm of the populous capital.

UNDER-FIRE City of Harare Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi, has swiftly moved to save his job after city fathers threatened to send him packing if he failed to pay all outstanding workers’ salaries by next month end.

The Financial Gazette can report that after councillors bayed for his blood following protests by the unpaid workers, Mahachi pressed the panic button and immediately ordered City of Harare’s human capital and public safety director, Cainos Chingombe, to make efforts to clear the salary arrears.

Council spokesman, Michael Chideme, confirmed that the backlog would be cleared by May 31 instead of June 30.

Chingombe also confirmed the latest development saying: “So far so good, we are on course to meet that deadline set for us to clear the salary arrears. We have cleared the December to March salaries for all grades and we are confident that we can pay the remainder by end of next week. Right now we are sorting the April payment and we would be up to date very soon.”

At a recent full council meeting, councillors threatened to get rid of Mahachi after workers stormed Town House in protest over unpaid salaries stretching back to December last year.

Some of the protesters refused to vacate the premises, spending the night there before Mahachi called in baton wielding anti-riot police details to break the demonstration.

The police spent two days camped at Town House and this infuriated councillors who did not take it lightly.

And even as riot police officers camped around the building, some workers sneaked into the mayor’s gallery from where they chanted anti-Mahachi slogans while hoisting banners with inflammatory inscriptions and waved several placards denouncing him.

In its deliberations, council then gave Mahachi a 60-day ultimatum to clear the salaries backlog, failure of which he was told to leave office.

According to the Urban Councils Act, council, that comprises an elected body of officials, is the overall policy authority of a local government with authority to dismiss underperforming or errant officials.

Any expulsion, however, would have to be authorised by the Minister of Local Government — Ignatius Chombo in this case — first, before it becomes effective.

Mahachi has endured a tumultuous decade-old tenure at the helm of the populous capital. In March, angry residents, through their various associations, demanded his immediate resignation saying he has failed the city.

Mahachi, who joined Town House as a turnaround strategist in 2006, and replaced the late town clerk Nomutsa Chideya the following year, has presided over probably the worst spell in the history of the city, in terms of service delivery.

According to the 2004 turnaround strategy produced by City of Harare, which Mahachi was specifically hired to spearhead, council had dreamt of Harare attaining a world class city status by 2015.

The strategy was supposed to address a myriad of challenges affecting Harare’s estimated three million residents such as water shortages, environmental health challenges due to uncollected garbage and burst sewer pipes, housing shortages and mounting debts, among others.

However, the only change witnessed over the period in question has been more water shortages, increased littering, ballooning debts and an increase in a housing backlog resulting in the mushrooming of what mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, recently termed ‘glorified squatter camps’ as residents sought to address housing woes on their own through ineffective housing cooperatives.

Mahachi and his team recently drafted a new blueprint through which they now wish to persuade residents to give them legitimacy to stay on at Town House, promising in the blueprint that the council vision will now be met in 2025.

Early last year, Manyenyeni suspended Mahachi pending an investigation into alleged obscene salaries enjoyed by senior staff at the expense of struggling workers but Chombo reversed the decision saying the mayor had overstepped his mandate.

Source : Financial Gazette